The door closed behind my boyfriend. Then, suddenly, it was that moment. My stomach dropped into my shoes, my heart started racing, my head started spinning. I collapsed onto the couch and started sobbing uncontrollably. It was the moment I had been dreading, the moment when a single thought crossed my mind and sent me over the edge: What if we’ve made a terrible mistake?
I’m horrible with transitions, I always have been. The beginning of every semester of college was a nightmare for me. I don’t know why I thought moving across the country would be any easier. This moment was inevitable.
After college David and I lived in our little college town and worked jobs that were just okay in a place that was losing its glamour for us. We had really bad wanderlust. So we made a plan. In the spring we’d quit our jobs, get rid of all of our stuff, and drive west until we found a town we fell in love with. We did all of those things. After two and a half months on the road we found ourselves in a sublet in Durango, CO.
The door shutting was David going to his first day of work. The sobbing commenced when I realized I was alone for the first time, in a new apartment, in a town I didn’t know, across the country from my family, without a job, or any friends. What the hell was I doing.
It’s been two months since that moment and everything has changed. Moving to a town for love rather than work is extremely difficult. The quality of life will be as high as it can get, but you won’t have security or a career track right off the bat. Yet, with a little patience, it’s very possible. For anyone else experiencing this same transition, or hoping to endure it soon, I have several recommendations for you. These steps will make the change a little bit smoother.
1. Get a Job.
If you’ve moved somewhere for a job then this step doesn’t really apply to you. But, if you’re moving to a town unpreparedly, like I did, then the first thing you should do is track down a service job, even if you don’t need one right away. Having a job, something to do several times a week, will get you out of the house and give you a social life. You’ll meet people, maybe you’ll even make friends. I started working at a restaurant. Having people to talk and something to do distracted me from the transitional stress.
2. Get Outside.
If you’ve moved somewhere with natural attractions then go do as many outdoor activities as you can. At first it was really I had a hard time getting off the couch from watching Friends obsessively. Finally, I went for a hike and was astonished at how beautiful my town actually was. I remembered why I had moved there in the first place. Then I started biking and running, exploring as much as I could. If you live in a city and can’t enjoy nature that way then get outside and explore your new stomping grounds. Get to know it, soon enough you’ll start feeling like you truly belong.
3. Say Yes.
So that girl you’re working with wants you to go out with her after work. You’re not really sure about her, you two aren’t really all that similar. It doesn’t matter. Say yes. And that guy next door invited you for a hike. You’re pretty tired though, and you were right in the middle of a Friends marathon… doesn’t matter. Say yes. Hanging out with people is the only way to meet people, even if the conditions aren’t ideal. Say yes to everyone and every opportunity (within reason…) even if you’re feeling like a hermit. You won’t regret it. I didn’t.
Getting an apartment is a crazy ordeal. In Durango, especially, housing is expensive and hard to find. Finding a good place takes time, energy, and planning. David and I found a guy who was subletting his house for a month to go on vacation. By living in his fully-furnished space for a month we were able to devote more time to find the perfect place, rather than sign a lease for something we didn’t like for way too much money.
5. Call Home.
In those moments when you’re feeling really lonely, out of place, and lost – call home. Call your parents, your family, your friends. Even if it’s hard to pick up the phone, do it. Reminders that you have people that love you, even if they’re far away, are endlessly soothing. I’ve called my mom and my best friends more in the past two months here than I did in the six months before moving – and it’s made a huge difference.
There’s no better way to feel at home then to make a home. Put up pictures of people and moments you love. Buy some plants, put up artwork. By making your new space feel like it’s yours you’ll ensure you have a comfortable place to come home to, even if you’ve had an alienating or lonely day. I bought frames for all my favorite pictures, decorated my porch with flowers, and hit up yard sales for cute pottery, dishes, and decorations I could use to make our new apartment homey.
Moving is hard. Taking a chance and moving somewhere totally new is even harder. Not already having a job seems impossible. Yet, place makes such a difference when it comes to life satisfaction, quality, and enjoyment. You need to be in a place that reflects you, that offers you something beyond just work. If you find that place, make it happen. The transitional period will definitely be worth it (at least that’s what I tell myself, I’m still in it). Hopefully these steps can make it a little easier (they already have for me).
Have you moved abruptly before? What did you do to make the transition easier?